Every night, when I put the girls to bed, they each get to pick a song we sing together. There are usually 3-4 in rotation, but tonight, they requested “Wheels on the Bus”. I’m pretty sure they chose this song because they could draw it out with extra made-up verses. Wheels on the Bus has been a longtime family favorite and so, we have many versions in our repertoire. The three books we own all have differences, but there is one significant contrast that stood out to me tonight when we got to the driver on the bus.
The girls sang, “The driver on the bus says move on back.” I sang, “The driver on the bus says all aboard.”
Across the country, last week was a tough one. At one point I vowed to not open Facebook for 48 hours. I couldn’t stand to read another knee jerk reaction, ignorant comment or repetitive share of some diluted article or opinion piece. It was all just too much. Then, on Thursday, Jim left town to care for his dad who is undergoing cancer treatment in Washington.
Move on back.
I get it. Patience is a virtue that we’re all running short of. My friend texted me the other day to check in and I replied, “Trying to dig a new patience well because that s*** has run dry over here.” And yes, I even googled How to be more patient with toddlers last week. Happily, that search brought me to “The Orange Rhino Challenge” which provides among other messages of support, a list of alternatives to yelling. Here are six of my favorites:
- “At least.” These two small words give me great perspective and remind me to chill out. I use them readily in any annoying but not yell worthy kid situation. “He just dropped an entire jug of milk on the floor…at least it wasn’t glass and at least he was trying to help!”
- Start clapping until kids have stopped annoying behavior.
- Speak in a robot voice (makes kids stop and look at you and wonder, who is she?!).
- Raise two hands in air (gets kids attention & warns that I’m about to blow).
- Say “I love you. I love you. I love you.” (Hard to yell when you realize you love someone).
- Say out loud “It’s Gonna be a GREEEEAT day” (like the guy in Jerry Maguire).
There are times when I feel like I’m just too soft and should really toughen up. But like Brené Brown says, “We can’t selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light.” Empathy is actually a choice and being sensitive is something I think we should recognize as a strength, not a weakness.
The Wall Street Journal wrote this week about companies that are embracing empathy. And as this article puts it, “If there is one lesson that history teaches us, it is this: empathy cracks open the door of our moral concern, and laws and rights wedge that door open. Reason – embodied in laws and rights – and empathy are not, as the critics contend, polar opposites. They are in fact a democratic double act: like knife and fork, ball and socket, Fred and Ginger, they work best when they work together.”
Quite simply, what the world needs now is love.